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2 Great acts in one day, I'll be warming up for Maceo Parker on the wheels of steel playing car chase funk, jazz-funk and latin beats. Do not miss this one!
Admittedly, that annoying Trance/Techno sound that is being applied to more and more Afrobeat tunes, might be causing a confusion as to what pure Afrobeat is. But with that rhythm seeping into other genres of music, African music in the west is showing no signs of dying or just being fad.
For the traditionalists; if the music is not that, of the Fela Kuti sound, then what you are describing as 'Afrobeat' is wholly wrong. And I half agree, as I think that the current designation of Afrobeat to every modern-day sounding African song, does seem lazy and not accurately representative of a specific sound - whether it has evolved or not. However, with African sounds penetrating more genres of music than ever, should we all just shut up, stop with the over-analysis and just enjoy the music?
SO WHAT IS AFROBEAT?
At the moment, the classification: 'Afrobeat' seems to cover any and all modern West African sounds. Some inclusions extend to House music infused with African rhythms and even stretch to certain grime tunes, that sort of sound like House music - with African influences. Donaeo's African Warrior is a fairly good example of an existing classification woe, as to me it ticks the boxes of all the previous classifications mentioned. Most designations seem to throw songs under the Funky House banner, but songs like this with crossover tones make the one label insufficient.
These type of songs are making it difficult to measure where Afrobeat stops and other forms of music start, but it is no mysterious wonder as to why this music is manifesting in the first place. We simply have many producers and artists who are of the Afro-European and Afro-American diaspora, who have been been simultaneously surrounded by Hip-Hop, Hi-Life, Hip-Life, Kwaito, Dub-step and uptempo electronic/grime beats, as well as their non-native Afro-Caribbean music.
When someone says 'Afrobeat' to me, the first thing I think of is Fela Kuti...
When you say 'African music' I think Letta Mbulu, Manu Dibango, Guy Lobe and Sam Fan Thomas.
So perhaps for the current, modern equivalent, we should be calling it something along the lines of 'Progressive Afrobeat'...yes...no? Is that a more appropriate title? I don't know, but the bigger question may be; do we really need another category to confuse the matter?
"...by the year 1995, you could for example, buy any magazine on dance culture and read reviews on new releases, split into the categories of: Disco House, Funky House, Handbag, Deep House, Techy House, TRIBAL House and Progressive House."
THE PLIGHT OF FUNKY HOUSE
For some reason and very much in the same vein as Afrobeat, people seem to think that the 'Funky House' boom we had from 2007 - 2012 was some new incarnation of House music and that now, it has had its day and died. But Funky House has been around since House music has been around, from way back, when nobody even use to split Warehouse music into categories. Funky House would have just been another sub-genre grouped under the Garage-House banner with the rest of the gang, all of which had its influence from disco and the electronica sounds of the 70s/80s.
People also seem to forget one other constant factor with music, in fact with all art - that as various new influences arrive and new technology is invented, producers and artists will incorporate new ideas and muses into their productions. So in staying within the example of House music, by the year 1995, you could for example, buy any magazine on dance culture and read reviews on new releases, split into the categories of: Disco House, Funky House, Handbag, Deep House, Techy House, TRIBAL House, Soulful House and Progressive House. Further complications into these sub-genres could arrive as they could be mixed with each other as well.
NAME THAT GENRE
When I first heard the Justin Timberlake song "Let The Groove Get In", I immediately thought 'hold on this sounds African' . Then on repeated listening I noticed a slight Latin soundscape in the background. In not knowing that the producers had used a sample from Alhamdulillaahi Faso: Rhythms of the Grasslands, my ears were not lying. But what do you call this music? I mean the song is featured on an RnB album, by an RnB/Pop artist. So is it RnB, Afro-RnB? Afro Latin-Pop? Does it really matter? Perhaps it does, but it does serve to illustrate the point, that African music can be and is being infused into everything, so in its pure or hybridic form - Afrobeats are here to stay.
Malcolm Mclaren ended up in court for using the group 3 Mabone's, Mbaqanga Zulu groove without consent. He paid a settlement to the band out of court for the trouble.
Here we have a funky house tune from 1992 and a funky house/afro house mix from 2013. Could they not be seamlessly mixed with each other?
This Friday (10th) I'll be playing The best of MJ Vs Prince in 2 allotted time slots. In between those classic bangers, I'll be dropping tunes by the contemporaries of the two heroes of modern music.